How to set White Balance (WB) with ANY Camera

The color of the source of the light will affect the colors in your images. Setting the White Balance is the key to great color photos. This applies to a $5,000 camera or a phone camera.

White balance (WB) is the process of removing unrealistic color casts, so that objects which appear white in person are rendered white in your photo. Proper camera white balance has to take into account the “color temperature” of a light source, which refers to the relative warmth (yellow) or coolness (blue) of white light. Our eyes are very good at judging what is white under different light sources.

By Default your camera is set to Automatic White Balance (AWB)

If you are capturing your images in a “raw” file format, you can aways “fix” the white balance later with your software.

If you are capturing your images as a .jpg file, you MUST get the WB right in camera, the chances of fixing it later in your software is greatly diminished.


If you are shooting indoors with mixed lighting, shoot a “check” image and then use your camera’s display… If you don’t like the colors you are seeing, choose one of the following WB presets…


If you don’t like the color in your images –Do the following…

On a sunny day shoot a scene with WB set to Daylight, then shoot the same scene in WB Shade then WB Cloudy. The daylight setting will produce colors with a “cool” bluish look, The shade WB will be a warm yellow and the cloudy WB will produce a scene that is even a warmer yellow than the previous scene… What color setting do you like the best? Use the setting you like the best when you are shooting in daylight.

Cameras have the greatest difficulty with WB indoors, especially when there is more than one source of light… Daylight from windows, fluorescent lights above and even incandescent bulbs in a lamp. Experiment and again, choose the WB that gives the most pleasing color in the cameras preview screen. (Some cameras will let you choose from 2 or 3 different kinds of fluorescent lights.)

If you use a flash, the color the camera records, will be between Daylight and Shade… (flash color temperature is 5,500K) The bluish color cast and deep shadows sometimes gives away the fact that you used a flash.

How do you get the color right every time??

Use the Custom WB setting To Manually set White Balance!

Manual white balance is usually a one or two step process… You simply photograph a piece of white paper or a photographic White Balance Card, lit in the direct light of the light source (The Sun or a Fluorescent light or what ever), and then tell the camera to use that picture as the source of the light. (it doesn’t even have to be in focus!)

Search Google or Amazon for “White Balance Cards” you’ll find kits that range in price from $5.00 to $80.00

Consider the following

I will argue that both renderings, “Cool” on the left and “Warm” on the right are equally acceptable.
For the “cool” bluer image, I just moved the temperature slider in Camera Raw or Lightroom to the left.
For the “warm” yellower image, I moved the temperature slider to the right. I stopped when I liked what I saw. I LIKE both!


You can down load this article as a PDF file at
http://www.uofgts.com/BetterPhotos/PDFs/SettingWhiteBalance-web.pdf